Kamala Harris

California Democratic State Convention – May 20, 2017

Kamala Harris
May 20, 2017— Sacramento, California
2017 California Democratic State Convention
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Oh, it's good to be back home! Well, it is an incredible honor to be back home and this is the first time I appear before this convention as a United States senator from the state of California. [applause]

But before I get started, I just got to speak my piece about John Burton. I am so proud to be a part of that group of people, that large, large group of people who have been impacted by this person, by this man, by this legend, John Burton. He has as, we all know, labored day in and day out doing the real work of social justice. And John, as you've heard, has been a mentor to so many of us in this party and I will personally always cherish the advice he has given me over the years, the many truth bombs and F-bombs. So let's again put our hands together for John Burton, please. [applause]

And let's not overlook the secret to John's success, a big part of the secret of John success has been the secret behind our party's success and those names of course are Shawnda Wesley and Angie Tate [applause]. And without any question, those two women have demonstrated every day and in every way that powerful women persist. [applause]

So California Democrats, let's not mince words this morning. I believe we need to speak the truth and if there's one thing that Democrats must do to take our country back, it is speak the truth. These are difficult, even painful, times in the halls of Congress and across our country, and we know we have our work cut out for us. We know we have a steep hill to climb and we have many tough fights ahead. It's especially why now, this convention is so important and it's why every single person in this hall is so important.

So I've been thinking, as we all have, about where we are as a nation, and I truly believe we are at an inflection point in our history. I believe and think of it as being a moment not unlike the moment that my parents met in the San Francisco Bay area when they were active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Today I believe we are facing a series of fundamental fights over fundamental rights. We see freedom of religion under attack, freedom of the press under attack, the right to vote under attack, the rule of law under attack, the independence of the judiciary and a government of co-equal branches under attack by this administration. [applause]

And California, these are fundamental fights. And I come to you with bloody knuckles after these first 120 days [applause]. And I come to you ready to keep up the fight, and I need you by me, side by side, every step of the way. [applause]

So let's start with one of the most important and fundamental fights for California – the insidious attacks on our immigrants and religious communities that have left millions of our people living in fear. [applause] We all saw the scenes on the television news, from LAX to SFO, to JFK and Dulles.

But let's remember this is also about the scenes that weren't on television. Today, because of this administration, we have hundreds of thousands of Dreamers up and down this state and across this country living in fear that they're going to wake up to a knock on the door in the middle of the night. Today, in our Golden State, we have mothers and fathers living in chilling fear because they know they are just an ICE raid away from losing their children. We have worshipers right here in California wondering whether their mosque or synagogue or their family members will be the next to be attacked.

Democrats, we have seen how hate and xenophobia are like a poison infecting our body politic. And as Californians, we have an outsized stake in this fight and an outsized responsibility to keep up the fight. Which is why my first bill as your United States senator is named the Access to Counsel Act, which says that anyone detained at our border, whether they arrive by land, sea or air, has a right to an attorney. [applause] We must keep up the fight. We need to stand up and fight for California's Dreamers. The United States government made a promise to those kids, and we cannot and will not allow this administration to break that promise. [applause]

And that's not the only promise we need to keep. Like a tornado, this president has left a trail of broken promises in his wake. He said he fights for America's forgotten middle class, then he left our middle class in the cold. Instead of appointing a cabinet that represents all of America, he convened a billionaire boys club. Instead of producing what he promised – a plan for our middle class – his tax and budget plan is a blueprint for bankruptcy. Massive tax cuts for corporations at the expense of struggling families. And this is the same president who promised nobody would lose their health care but now wants to rip it away from 24 million Americans.

We need to keep up the fight. Let's tell these Republicans in Congress, it's time to stop playing politics with people's lives. And Democrats – and Democrats, let's go to San Diego and Orange County and the Central Valley. [applause] Let's hold these Republicans accountable in their districts. [applause] Because we all know if you vote for people to lose their health care, then you need to lose your job. [applause] It's simple.

Let's keep up the fight for our students. They need our help. They have barely begun and we have barely begun in this president's first year and already he is reversing basic protections for people with student loans while padding the pockets of predatory debt collectors. That's why I am proud to co-sponsor with Bernie Sanders the College For All Act. [applause] And what you guys know is in this bill we're just simply saying it's time to start investing in America by making public colleges and universities free for every student that needs it. [applause]

And we need to keep up the fight for our environment. Because – be clear and I'm seeing it from DC – this administration has put a target on California's back. They are targeting our coasts for oil drilling. They are targeting our air quality rules for elimination. They are targeting our wilderness areas to be auctioned off to mining and logging companies. [boos] And they're targeting our scientists. Now, to be clear, we know – we know – policies need to be based on science fact, not science fiction. [applause]

And we need to keep up the fight against mass incarceration. [applause] With an opioid epidemic raging across our country, we don't need another war on drugs. We need a war on drug addiction. [applause]

And let's keep up the fight for civil rights. Women's reproductive rights are at stake, LGBT rights are at stake voting, rights are at stake. And that's why I voted no on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court [applause]. And that's why I voted no on Jeff Sessions for United States attorney general. [applause] We need to keep up the fight.

And we need to keep up the fight for a rational foreign policy that does not lead this country to war. [applause] And we need answers. And we need answers. Too often it seems – and I'm telling you this my position in DC – sometimes it seems like this administration's real priority is Russia first, America second. [applause]

And Democrats we need to keep up the fight and recognize when our nation's very sovereignty is under attack. Fact: Russia interfered in the election of the president of the United States. Fact: the FBI is investigating. Fact: he fired the person in charge and then bragged about it to the very people who manipulated the election. Fact: instead of having the American press there to show the American people what is going on, he brought in what are essentially Putin's publicists. Folks, this is wrong. This is wrong, and we need the truth. And as your United States Senator, I will not rest until we get to the truth. [applause]

So Democrats, we know we have a long road ahead and many fights ahead, and it may get harder before it gets easier. But I'll tell you how I believe we take our country back. It starts with you. To take our country back, we need to remember that real power does not reside in Washington, D.C. It lives in each and every one of us [applause] and it is up to each and every one of us.

To take our country back, we need to remember Democrats win when we stand up and fight for who we are. We win when we fight for a government by, of and for the people, not wealthy special interests. [applause] We win when we recognize the greatest social program on Earth is a job and the most meaningful protection we can give our workers is the right to organize and rebuild our middle class. [applause] We win when we fight for high-quality public schools and colleges that give every child a chance to show their talents. [applause] We win when we fight for the value that healthcare is a fundamental human right. [applause] We win when we recognize the richest legacy we will ever leave our children is clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. [applause] And Democrats, we win when we stand together, when we stand together with all of our beautiful diversity, all of our beautiful complexity and when we recognize that we are all in this together. When we see that our unity is our strength and our diversity is our power. Young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor, urban and rural, immigrants and native-born, every color of the rainbow. [applause]

And I know, I know we will rise to the challenge. So let's roll up our sleeves and recommit ourselves to doing the work and fighting the fight, and let's take our country back. Thank you. [applause]